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Tips for Preventing, Detecting, and Reporting Financial Abuse of the Elderly
- August 31st, 2017
Reports of elder financial abuse continue to increase, and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to scams or to financial abuse by family members in need of money.
A recent study found that up to one million older Americans may be targeted yearly. Family members and caregivers are the culprits in 55 percent of cases, although financial losses are higher with investment fraud scams.
Local Elder Law Attorneys in Ashburn, VA
Ron M. Landsman, P.A.
Ron M. Landsman has been practicing elder law since 1983, before it was known as elder law, originally with Landsman and Laster, Washington, D.C., then Landsman, Eakes and Laster, also in Arlington, VA, and since 1990 in his own practice in Montgomery County, Maryland. He has been among the most active members of the...
Margaret A. O'Reilly, PC
Margaret A. O’Reilly is an estate planning and elder law attorney with over thirty-five years of legal experience. Attorney O’Reilly graduated from Duke University with a degree in psychology, and received her law degree from Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, Massachusetts. For over 15 y...
Law Offices of John L. Laster
John Laster is a lawyer licensed to practice in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. He limits his practice to wealth transfer planning, trusts, wills, powers of attorney, health care decision-making issues, estate administration and related tax, elder law and disability concerns. Listed in The Best Lawyers...
While it is impossible to guarantee that an elderly loved one is not the victim of financial abuse, there are some steps you can take to reduce the chances. One option is to have more than one family member involved in caring for the loved one. You can also encourage the elder to get involved in community activities to ensure he or she has a wide range of support. Using direct deposit as much as possible is also helpful. And of course you should always screen caregivers carefully and verify references.
Financial abuse can be very difficult to detect. The following are some signs that a loved one may be the victim of this kind of abuse:
- The disappearance of valuable objects
- Withdrawals of large amounts of money, checks made out to cash, or low bank balances
- A new "best friend" and isolation from other friends and family
- Large credit card transactions
- Signatures on checks look different
- A name added to a bank account or newly formed joint accounts
- Indications of fear of caregivers
If you suspect someone of being financially abused, there are several actions you can take:
- Report the crime by calling your local Adult Protective Services and state attorney general's office. File a police report.
- Explore options at your local probate court if your state has such courts. The court can intervene if someone in the family is misusing a power of attorney or their role as guardian or conservator.
- Contact advocacy organizations. The National Center on Elder Abuse offers guidance on how to investigate and seek justice for elder abuse. State laws vary, but some have elder abuse statutes and may be able to get restitution for breach of fiduciary duties.
- Try to get a temporary restraining order from a court while building your case.
See also the National Council for Aging Care's guide to recognizing elder abuse.
Last Modified: 08/31/2017